Frictionless is not structureless

One of the recent episodes of Mikes on mics podcast had a very interesting conversation about using paper templates to help sustain better productivity. Micheal Schechter made a good point that he needs structure to help him with the planning and thinking hence templates are excellent solution. In his eyes, these forms reduce the friction that a clean sheet of paper would have as they provide guidance and boundaries to his mind. Such approach might be very specific to Micheal but it’s got me thinking about interaction between friction and structure.
Very often we think of frictionless as totally rid of any structure, totally free. However frictionless really means to remove unnecessary obstacles, barriers so that things can flow smoother within a set of boundaries – structure.

Lets take it to the field or productivity. Frictionless productivity is not about getting rid of methodologies like GTD or Covey. A lot of us need them to help keep the focus and make sure we stick to the road and not drive throughout the fields. We want to maintain a system, an approach that let’s us organise thinking, tasks, projects etc. It’s not possible to act on every single idea or request the very moment it comes in hence you need a support structure.

Removing friction is about finding ways of accomplishing more in an easier fashion within the methodology of your choice. For me it’s been GTD and although I’m still not 100% where I would like to be, I do apply it every time I can.

When I’m looking at friction in my system I look at it in the context of the GTD workflow.

  • Are there any better ways to capture my ideas?
  • Can I organise my tasks in a more efficient way?
  • What steps can I remove or automate?
  • Are there ways of automating data flows between the apps I’m using?
  • Can I take better advantage of the features available?
  • What behaviors, habits decrease my effectiveness?

I don’t expect to always find an immediate solution, very often it takes time for an idea to pop up, sometimes I need to accept that my current tools can’t be pushed any further. I like this process/analysis as it allows me to look at the things I use and how to improve them.

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